UK Elections 2024: What You Need To Know About Sunak Vs Starmer Battle

UK Elections 2024: What You Need To Know About Sunak Vs Starmer Battle

It is advantage Labour to be sure, but will Rishi Sunak pull off a surprise victory for the Conservative Party?

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 01:32 PM IST
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UK PM Rishi Sunak (left) and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer |

The United Kingdom will go to polls on Thursday (July 4). The verdict of millions across the country will be known just a day after that. It will make clear if incumbent PM Rishi Sunak is successful in defying the odds to retain his chair or whether the Labour Party chief Keir Starmer snatches the post to be the next premier. If this happens, it will mark an end to 14-year rule of the Conservative Party.

UK Elections 2024: What's the broader picture?

It is being widely believed that the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will lose and Keir Starmer would be the next PM. Of course, nothing is certain till all votes are cast and counted but general perception is that Tories, as the Conservative Party is colloquially called, are set to lose.

Elections were not due till January 2025 but Sunak decided to call early polls. His decision surprised many, including those in his own party. But it is possible that he was trying to take a gamble based on belief that a (relatively) better economy may create a positive voter sentiment which would help the party in elections.

By the looks of it, this may not entirely work but you never know.

It is however, for sure that Conservative Party is on the back foot. Various scandals, a preventable economic disaster and more has dented the Conservative Party brand image when it is already under 14-year fatigue.

Labour knows this and they have hinged their political campaign on one word; Change.

In last 14 years, the Tories have had to appoint five prime ministers, one of which led Britain out of the European Union (Brexit under David Cameron), another lasted only for 45 days after her policies spelt disaster for British economy (Liz Truss). Another in the series, Boris Johnson, was busy partying when ordinary citizens were under very strict COVID curbs. All this has bled the Conservative Party's image.

Rishi Sunak hasn't fared much better. The British PM went big on his 'Stop the Boats' campaign aimed at stopping illegal migrant coming onto southern British shores in small boats through the English Channel. This has not stopped the migration completely.

How will the elections take place?

Polling will open at 7 am local time (12:30 pm IST) on Thursday and will go on till 10 pm local time (3:30 am on Friday). Six hundred and fifty seats of the House of Commons are up for grabs. Each constituency will elect one person to represent it in the British Parliament. The party with the most seats or the one leading an alliance with most seats will form the next government and its leader would be the next PM.

What are the key election issues?

Economy

Voters are concerned about sluggish growth of economy. Even for those who aren't interested in complex calculations, inflation has been hitting their everyday expenses. Inflation did come under control after Sunak took charge but it is hard to forget more than 11 per cent of inflation during Liz Truss' short-lived tenure.

Chronically strained health service

The once-iconic National Health Service (NHS) is under tremendous strain. The service provides free healthcare to everyone but dangerously long waiting lists, shortage of staff and other factors have meant that no matter if it is dental treatment or one for cancer, patients may have to wait for months before they can meet a doctor.

Immigration

Sunak's 'Stop the Boats' push saw his Rwanda plan becoming a law, but asylum seekers and economic migrants continue to illegally cross English Channel in small boats. The Rwanda plan, which ultimately aims to send illegal migrants to Rwanda, has attracted widespread flak. It has attracted criticism that it is inhumane and violates International Law.

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